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Anti-Gay Regnerus Scandal: Editor James Wright Must Disclose Wilcox’s Role

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June 10, 2012.

That was the publication date for two studies twinned in anti-gay-rights political purpose, one by Mark Regnerus, the other by Loren Marks.

The studies were published in the Elsevier journal Social Science Research. That journal’s editor-in-chief is James Wright.

The Regnerus study’s funders immediately began using the two studies as heavily artillery in their War Against Gays.

The Regnerus study’s chief funder is The Witherspoon Institute, which is joined at the hip to the National Organization for Marriage (NOM).

In their early days, Witherspoon and NOM shared an office at 20 Nassau Street, Suite 242 in Princeton, New Jersey. The two anti-gay-rights group remain joined at the hip: Witherspoon president Luis Tellez has a been a NOM board member since NOM was founded by its current mastermind Robert P. George, who also is a Witherspoon senior fellow.

The Witherspoon connection to Elsevier’s journal Social Science Research is Witherspoon’s W. Bradford Wilcox, Director of Witherspoon’s program on “Marriage, Family and Democracy” and an editorial board member of Social Science Research.

The connections between NOM founder and mastermind Robert George and Brad Wilcox do not stop at those observed in the Witherspoon Institute; Wilcox also is a member of Princeton University’s James Madison Society, which is headed by Robert George.

It almost surely was not mere coincidence that — with Wilcox on the Social Science Research editorial board — the twinned Marks and Regnerus studies appeared simultaneously, the Regnerus study through very suspicious rush circumstances in time for pernicious anti-gay-rights political exploitation in the 2012 elections.

No speculation whatsoever is necessary to prove that Social Science Research editor James Wright is attempting to hide his editorial board member Wilcox’s connections to the unethical publication of the Regnerus study through corrupt peer review.

Witherspoon’s 2010 IRS 990 forms define Regnerus’s New Family Structures Study as a project of Wilcox’s Witherspoon program.

Whereas Regnerus in his published study alleges that his funders played no role in study analyses, Wilcox was issued, and signed, a consulting contract for data analysis on the Regnerus study. Wilcox’s data analysis contract is the second contract at this link.

Wright intends to publish, in November, another non-peer-reviewed article by Regnerus — a response to his critics — which Regnerus titles — “Additional Analyses” — in which Regnerus again lies by saying that his funders have not been involved in data analysis.

An e-mail to Wright asking if he would be correcting that falsehood did not receive the courtesy of a reply.

Meanwhile, there are grounds for concern that Regnerus’s data set is entirely invalid, has been improperly manipulated, or both.

Regnerus claims that his data set is statistically accurate for the whole population of the United States. Yet one of his “findings” is that — out of 2,988 respondents between the ages of 18 and 39 — 620 (six-hundred and twenty) have never once in their lives masturbated. Regarding childhood sexual victimization, Regnerus phrased a question about it, such that there is no way for anybody to know who allegedly sexually victimized his study respondents as children. Yet, his “finding” is that children of “lesbian mothers” are abused at a rate of 23% — nearly double that for the next highest family structure in his study, that of step families, reported at 12%.

Previous studies of lesbian parents consistently have shown low child sex abuse rates. And, the Witherspoon/NOM/FRC cronies involved with the genesis, carrying out, and political promotions of the Regnerus study have long histories of demonizing gay people by conflating homosexuals with pedophiles, a known falsehood.

There is a blockade against third party sociologists being able to evaluate the Wilcox/Regnerus presentation of the study’s “findings,” because Regnerus has not yet released his raw data. The appearance is that Regnerus is withholding his raw data until after the November elections, in line with his funders’ political goals for his study. Regnerus should immediately apologize for his lie about his funders in relation to his data analyses, and he should immediately release his raw data so that third party sociologists can fully evaluate his anti-gay defamation that explicitly exists — in his vague and un-interpretable finding — that children of “lesbian mothers” are sexually abused at a rate of 23%.

The central problem with Elsevier and Regnerus is that objectively viewed, there simply is no basis for trust that the perpetrators are not lying about their product, Regnerus’s study.

It is dismaying that the article by Regnerus that Wright intends to publish in November is titled “Additional Analyses” and that the article says that Regnerus’s funders did not participate in the analyses, when we know for a fact that they did.

Regnerus and his business partner enablers in Elsevier know no shame.

The Regnerus Additional Analyses document is packed full of additional lies and subterfuges. For example, Regnerus purports to answer to the observation that many of his study subjects’ parents were closet cases who entered into sham opposite gender marriages or relationships.  He says that that may or may not be the case, but that the study was not designed to make that determination. He then says, that for those cases in his study, where a study respondent’s mother had the respondent child with a man, then separated from the man and had a same-sex relationship, he — pay very, very careful attention to his — Regnerus says that he would “hesitate to assert that a same-sex relationship — especially if relatively brief — is indicative of a fixed sexual orientation.” (Bolding added).

But meanwhile — in documented reality — Regnerus did not at all hesitate to assert that his study subjects’ mothers were “lesbian mothers.” In his published study, he said that the question his study answers is: “Do the children of gay and lesbian parents look comparable to those of their heterosexual counterparts?” Throughout his published study, Regnerus refers to his subjects’ mothers who had same-sex relationships as “lesbian mothers.”

To deflect the criticism of his study, wherein it is surmised, by those doing the criticism, that most of his study’s parents judged to be gay parents were closet cases in sham heterosexual marriages, Regnerus tells a lie, saying that he hesitates to label his study subjects’ parents as lesbian mothers, even though, in his study, he absolutely did label them as lesbian mothers, with no hesitation whatsoever.

And, there is a reason Regnerus is telling this lie; if the main conclusion of his study were that anti-gay prejudice must be eliminated, to prevent the negative fallout that occurs when closet cases enter sham heterosexual marriages and have children, Regnerus’s study funders would not have the anti-gay-rights political weapon that they commissioned from Regnerus for $785,000.

Regnerus lies through his teeth about his study, while talking out both sides of his gay-bashing bigot mouth.

I repeat: The central problem with Elsevier and Regnerus is that objectively viewed, there simply is no basis for trust that the perpetrators are not lying about their product, Regnerus’s study.

At the end of June, 2012, after a group of over 200 Ph.D.s and M.D.s sent Social Science Research a letter expressing concerns about the twinned Marks and Regnerus studies, emphasizing concerns about the suspicious publication process of the Regnerus submission, and concerns that the Regnerus submission does not support its conclusions, editor James Wright assigned editorial board member Darren Sherkat to an audit of the publication of the studies.

That audit was a sham, with Sherkat admitting that the peer review of the Regnerus study was not valid, yet holding nobody accountable for the gross dereliction of science publishing duty represented by the corrupt publication process for the study. To the contrary, Sherkat invents excuses for all of the Social Science Research malefactors, including that because they are busy in their lives, they cannot be expected to carry out their duties as peer reviewers responsibly.

In a July 16, 2012 e-mail, this reporter asked Sherkat what he would do, if he found that the peer reviewers of the Regnerus study had conflicts of interest. Sherkat said: “I would advise the editor and editorial board that the paper should be retracted and resubmitted for a full review (that is normal procedure in all sciences).”  Contradicting that message, Sherkat told interviewer Michael Bajaras, in the wake of his sham audit: “normatively in sociology we don’t retract papers.”

In other words, to keep us quiet, Sherkat said that if he found conflicts of interest, he would tell Wright and the editorial board that the Regnerus study should be retracted, because “that is normal procedure in all sciences,” but then after he did in fact find conflicts of interest, he contradicted his statement about retraction being normal in cases of conflicts of interest, and alleged that “normatively in sociology we don’t retract papers.”  Unless Sherkat believes that sociology is not a science, his two contradictory statements can not be reconciled with each other.

Sherkat’s sham audit does not once mention that Regnerus’s Witherspoon funding agent representative Brad Wilcox sits on the editorial board of Social Science Research and that some of his anti-gay-rights cronies were allowed to do peer review and published commentaries about the study.  That is to say, Sherkat’s sham audit left very serious, essential facts of the matter, including multiple conflicts of interest, hidden from the public view.

Moreover, Wright intends to publish, in November, a Letter from the Editor about the Regnerus hoax. In his letter, Wright seeks to discredit me. I had reported, accurately, that on July 15, Sherkat told me in an e-mail: “Yes, the peer review process failed here, and you can quote me on that.”

But Wright in his letter accuses me of promoting Sherkat’s statement about peer review failure as being something “much more sinister.” He then includes, in his letter-from-the-editor, quotes from his SSR corporate toady Sherkat, in which quotes Sherkat attempts to make light of his on-the-record statement, absurdly claiming that peer review failure does not really mean that the peer review failed.

Sherkat additionally had told me: “How did this study get through peer review? The peers are right wing Christianists!

Regnerus’s funding agent representative, who also is Wright‘s Social Science Research editorial board member Brad Wilcox, certainly can be classified as a “right wing Christianist.” And, according to all of the assembled documentation and evidence, Wilcox was permitted to peer review one, and possibly both of the Marks and Regnerus studies. In his article The Fact of Life and Marriage: Social Science and the Vindication of Christian Moral Teaching,” Wilcox argues against contraception.

It could hardly be more obvious than it is, that Wilcox/Regnerus are abusing social science to attempt to achieve a “vindication of Christian moral teaching,” at the expense of gay human beings defamed through their invalid study that was only published through corrupt, insider, study-funder-connected, “right-wing-Christianist” peer review that let glaring scientific failings through into publication.

Ironically, before we had uncovered the connections between Wilcox and the corrupt publication of the Marks and Regnerus studies, Sherkat on July 17 said in an e-mail that “Wilcox most prominently” should be pressured by activists for his anti-gay hate mongering.

It is true that Wilcox is a bad actor and should be pressured. Yet, the real accountability for the publishing hoax involved with the Regnerus study is on the shoulders of the publisher, Elsevier, and Elsevier’s Social Science Research editor James Wright.

Wright has yet to acknowledge — and to give the public full details and documentation about — Wilcox’s involvement in this scandal. Wright has assembled various commentaries in support of Regnerus for publication in November; Wilcox’s name is not once mentioned in those upcoming articles.

An e-mail sent to Wright asking if he would be disclosing Wilcox’s connection to the Regnerus study hoax went without the courtesy of a reply.

With relentless determination, we must demand that James Wright disclose everything known about Wilcox and the Marks and Regnerus studies. Beyond that, the right thing for Elsevier and James Wright to do is to retract the Regnerus study from publication and to put it through valid peer review prior to any eventual future republication.

In a July 15 e-mail, Elsevier’s Social Science Research editorial board member Darren Sherkat said:  “I want to thank you and everyone else in the activist community for keeping this on the front burner.”

To a sign a petition telling Elsevier officials to retract the Regnerus study, go here.

New York City-based novelist and freelance writer Scott Rose’s LGBT-interest by-line has appeared on Advocate.com, PoliticusUSA.com, The New York Blade, Queerty.com, Girlfriends and in numerous additional venues. Among his other interests are the arts, boating and yachting, wine and food, travel, poker and dogs. His “Mr. David Cooper’s Happy Suicide” is about a New York City advertising executive assigned to a condom account.

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News

Trump’s Scheme for Absolute Immunity From State Prosecutions Forever: Report

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Having successfully obtained delays in his federal trials and his state trial in Georgia, possibly until after the November election, Donald Trump is now seeking an “insurance policy” to protect him from any future state prosecutions if he again becomes president.

The indicted ex-president who turns 78 next month “seems convinced that if he wins another four years in the White House, state prosecutors will still be waiting for him on the other side of his term — ready to put him on trial, or even in prison, just as they are now,” Rolling Stone reports.

“To avoid such risks, the former and perhaps future president of the United States wants Congress to create a very specific insurance policy that would help keep him out of prison forever, two sources familiar with the matter tell Rolling Stone. Trump vaguely alluded to this idea last week outside his New York criminal hush money trial, when he said he has urged Republican lawmakers to pass ‘laws to stop things like this.'”

Trump “has pressured” Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill to do so, describing it as imperative that he signs such a bill into law, if he again ascends to the Oval Office.”

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Rolling Stone also notes, “Trump appears fixated on the idea of passing a law to give former American presidents the option of moving state or local prosecutions into a federal court instead, the two sources add.”

Trump “has hinted at a legislative push to limit his exposure to such criminal charges. In an improvised press conference outside the Manhattan courthouse on Tuesday, Trump said he’s been telling the Republican lawmakers who want to attend his trial and show solidarity to focus on legislation instead.”

“We have a lot of ’em. They want to come. I say, ‘Just stay back and pass lots of laws to stop things like this.’”

In 1973, while still President but under the cloud of the Watergate scandal, Richard Nixon said, “People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook.”

If Trump is elected in November, he can have his Attorney General drop any federal prosecutions he is currently facing. That may call into question, for some legal experts, the actions of the far-right justices on the U.S. Supreme Court who have delayed ruling on his immunity claim, and U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon.

On May 7, Judge Cannon indefinitely suspended the Espionage Act case, also known as the classified documents case, against Donald Trump.

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Foreign policy, national security, and political affairs analyst and commentator David Rothkopf this week blasted the judge:

“Judge Cannon is not, as commentators and cartoonists would have it, just working on behalf of Trump. She is actively working on behalf of the enemies of the US who have and would benefit from the national security breaches she is effectively defending and making more likely.”

U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) earlier this month declared, “The courts are deliberately delaying justice — and effectively denying it.”

This coming week Americans may get a verdict in the New York criminal case against the ex-president. If it comes, it may be “guilty” or “not guilty,” but it could also be a hung jury, forcing another trial which also would not likely come before the election.

If Trump is elected in November, and can get his “insurance policy” legislation passed, he could possibly avoid all criminal trials for the rest of his life.

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OPINION

Pence Defense of Alito’s Insurrectionist Flag Highlights Its Ties to Violent Government Overthrow

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Mike Pence is defending far-right U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, whose ethics and ability to serve on the nation’s highest court are being questioned after The New York Times revealed he had been flying a highly-controversial flag used by the January 6 insurrectionists, neo-Nazis, and a far-right neo-fascist hate group. Democrats are demanding the justice recuse himself from all cases involving Donald Trump and the 2020 presidential election, and some are also demanding his resignation or impeachment.

The former Trump Vice President, in defending Alito, may have made the situation even worse for the 74-year old jurist by highlighting the flag’s ties to revolution and the overthrow of government. In his defense Pence also encourages all Americans to fly the flag: “The ‘Appeal to Heaven’ flag is part or our proud heritage of Faith and Freedom and every American should be proud to fly it,” he writes.

“The Appeal to Heaven Flag” dates back centuries, to the American Revolution, but in recent years was very clearly co-opted by the radical religious right and was seen being carried by the insurrectionists during the assault on the U.S. Capitol, some of whom who chanted, “hang Mike Pence,” as he and his family were being whisked away by Secret Service on January 6:

MSNBC columnist Sarah Posner, who for years has been writing about religion and politics, on Thursday noted, “the more one knows about the background of the flag, the more chilling its presence at [Alito’s] house becomes.”

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Posner says the flag is “an unmistakable emblem for an influential segment of Christian nationalists who claim the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump, contrary to God’s will, and that believers’ spiritual warfare is essential to restoring God’s anointed leader to his rightful office.”

“It was one of numerous Christian nationalist flags and other iconography carried by Trump supporters Jan. 6 and at the Jericho March, a series of prayer rallies that were like jet fuel for the insurrection,” Posner explains. “The Jericho March featured right-wing evangelical and Catholic speakers alongside militants such as conspiracist Alex Jones, Trump’s disgraced national security adviser Michael Flynn, and Oathkeepers founder Stewart Rhodes, now serving an 18-year prison sentence for seditious conspiracy and other crimes.”

Posner adds the flag “originated in Revolutionary times as a call to take up arms against unjust rulers who ignored the pleas of their citizens.”

Pence also refers to the Revolutionary War in his defense of Justice Alito, ignoring that the Revolutionary War was won several hundred years ago, and ignoring that a sitting U.S. Supreme Court justice promoting the very concept of taking up arms against rulers, unjust or otherwise, is, as constitutional scholar and University Professor Emeritus at Harvard University, Laurence Tribe wrote, “close to treason.”

Pence calls the “controversy” of Justice Alito’s flag-flying “absurd and anti-historical.” He quotes English Enlightenment philosopher John Locke, promoting his idea of the right to revolution, to replace a government.

In its Bombshell report Wednesday announcing the existence of a second Alito flag tied to the insurrectionists, The New York Times explains the Locke tie to the “Appeal to Heaven” flag.

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“Since its creation during the American Revolution, the flag has carried a message of defiance: The phrase ‘appeal to heaven’ comes from the 17th-century philosopher John Locke, who wrote of a responsibility to rebel, even use violence, to overthrow unjust rule. ‘It’s a paraphrase for trial by arms,’ Anthony Grafton, a historian at Princeton University, said in an interview. ‘The main point is that there’s no appeal, there’s no one else you can ask for help or a judgment.'”

Coincidentally or not, Grafton’s “trial by arms” seems to echo Trump acolyte Rudy Giuliani’s January 6 speech in which he specifically called for “trial by combat.”

Religious studies scholar Matthew Taylor, quoted in The New York Times’ report on Alito’s “Appeal to Heaven” flag, told CBS News (video below) Christian nationalist leader Dutch Sheets “was given one of these flags and he believed that he received a prophecy when he received this flag, that it was a symbol of a revolution that would take place in America, a spiritual revolution that would reconstitute the United States as a truly Christian nation.”

He adds the “Appeal to Heaven” flag has become a “very potent symbol of Christian nationalism, Christian Trumpism, opposition to abortion, opposition to gay marriage, and the desire for a more Christian America.”

Watch the videos above or at this link.

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OPINION

‘You Just Don’t Do It’: Federal Judge Denounces Alito’s Flags as ‘Stop the Steal’ Stickers

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A senior U.S. district judge is denouncing U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito‘s flying of two insurrection-related flags at his homes in Virginia and New Jersey, declaring the actions “improper. And dumb.”

Judge Michael Ponsor, 77, who has served on the federal bench since 1984, writes in a Friday New York Times op-ed that he has “known scores, possibly hundreds, of federal trial and appellate judges pretty well,” and “can’t think of a single one, no matter who appointed her or him, who has engaged or would engage in conduct like that.”

“You just don’t do that sort of thing, whether it may be considered over the line, or just edging up to the margin. Flying those flags was tantamount to sticking a ‘Stop the steal’ bumper sticker on your car. You just don’t do it.”

Justice Alito’s first flag scandal came late last week, when The New York Times reported an upside down U.S. flag had flown at his Virginia home jut days before Joe Biden was sworn in as President. That flag is associated with the insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021. As of January, more than 1200 who were there that day have been arrested and charged with crimes.

Alito blamed his wife, claiming she made the decision to fly the flag upside down, which according to the U.S. flag code should only be done to signal distress. Martha-Ann Alito, her husband claimed, had gotten into an argument with a neighbor and manifested her anger by flying the “Stop the Steal” flag.

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The second flag scandal came on Wednesday, when The Times again revealed an Alito insurrection-related flag, this time at his New Jersey home, where the Alitos were flying the “Appeal to Heaven” flag which has ties both to the insurrectionists, and to extreme right Christian nationalists.

Justice Alito has not made any public comment defending his second flag.

Judge Ponsor offered up a hypothetical to counter Justice Alito’s claim his wife was to blame, in this case, an example of him presiding over a death penalty case.

“Let’s say my wife was strongly opposed to the death penalty and wished to speak out publicly against it. I’m not saying this is true, but let’s imagine it. The primary emotional current in our marriage is, of course, deep and passionate love, but right next to that is equally deep and passionate respect. We would have had a problem, and we would have needed to talk,” Ponsor explained.

“In this hypothetical situation, I hope that my wife would have held off making any public statements about capital punishment, and restrained herself from talking about the issue with me, while the trial unfolded. On the other hand, if my wife had felt strongly that she needed to espouse her viewpoint publicly, I would have had to recuse myself from presiding over the case, based on the appearance of partiality.”

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Note he mentions as a sitting federal judge he would have applied the same standards that jurors are expected to observe: to not discuss the case with anyone, including their spouses.

And should there have been a discussion, or if she were to air her views publicly, he would be forced to recuse himself from the case.

Justice Alito has not recused from any 2020 presidential election cases, any Trump-related cases, any insurrection-related cases.

That includes the Trump “absolute immunity” case the Supreme Court heard in April, for which they have yet to rule.

The Supreme Court “recently adopted an ethics code to ‘guide the conduct’ of the justices,” Ponsor observes. “One of its canons states that a justice should ‘act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.’ That’s all very well. But basic ethical behavior should not rely on laws or regulations. It should be folded into a judge’s DNA. That didn’t happen here.”

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